Bilal: A New Breed of Hero is a Saudi Arabian animation inspired by the life of Bilal ibn Rabah, one of Prophet Muhammad’s (pbuh) most trusted companions and the first muezzin in Islam.
Despite receiving wholly positive reviews, the film tanked when it first came out in the Middle East back in 2015. Fortunately, distributors saw the promise in the movie and Bilal: A New Breed of Hero has now been given a western release date (it hits cinemas in the US on 2 February 2018).
There are two reasons this is great news.
Firstly, the story of Bilal ibn Rabah recounts his escape from slavery and lifelong fight against persecution. He was deeply committed to his faith, and he even endured torture because of his refusal to renounce Islam. Naturally, the movie approaches some of the story with slight artistic license, but the message of loyalty, justice and integrity rings true.
Secondly, the film reflects a willingness to champion diversity and promote representation in Hollywood. We are finally experiencing a moment when movies like A Wrinkle in Time and Black Panther are considered hotly anticipated blockbusters, so it’s fitting – and refreshing – that a Saudi Arabian animation about a Muslim boy from Ethiopia who fights injustice is getting a mainstream release.
As Ayman Jamal, the screenwriter of Bilal: A New Breed of Hero, said: ‘I wanted to create this…to inspire kids with a real human superhero that they can aspire to.’
Judging by the trailer, we’re sure it will have the desired effect: